Real Balanced is a keto blog that hope to serve people as a tool on their journey to optimal health by providing some recipes to their repertoire! Browse hundreds of delicious Keto, Low-Carb, and Paleo recipes that will spur you on your journey to optimal health! Learn all about how to live a fulfilling low-carb life without sacrificing good food!
I am sharing this post in partnership with Lakanto. As always, all opinions are my own. I appreciate you supporting both me and the brands that allow me to create quality content for you!
These low carb granola bars are extremely versatile and perfect for snacking and taking on-the-go! This keto snack is absolutely delicious and is perfect for SO MANY diets! These bars are keto, primal, paleo, vegetarian, AND gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free!
Delicious homemade granola bars
These granola bars are absolutely DELICIOUS and do a great job of satisfying any midday or after-dinner sweet cravings that I get.
I find that they work well as healthy breakfast bars, too! When paired with my morning keto coffee, I start my day out on a perfect note!
Plus, everyone loves them. I’ve yet to find someone doesn’t enjoy these granola bars, and that includes my non-keto friends!
How to make granola bars
These granola bars are one of the simplest keto snacks you’ll ever make. All they require is a bit of mixing, food processing, and baking!
That being said, it will be handy to have a food processor on-hand as you’ll need to pulse the sweetener to get it into a powder form.
Additionally, you’ll need a baking pan and some parchment paper.
In total, this recipe will only take about an hour and ten minutes to create! That includes prep time, baking time, AND cooling time.
Keto granola bar recipe made with Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener
One of the reasons these nut free protein bars are so delicious is because I use monk fruit sweetener to make them! I LOVE using monk fruit sweetener in my recipes because it does a great job of sweetening things up while tasting like traditional sugar.
Basically, it provides sweetness but without the added carbs! Keto-approved? Check.
For this particular recipe, I use Lakanto’s Classic sweetener, but if you only have their Golden version, that’ll work too. Both versions are calorie-free, GMO-free, net carb-free, and all-natural. It’s also zero-glycemic, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar. To me, that’s a WIN!
Net carbs in low carb granola bars
As a low carb treat, these keto snack bars are absolutely PERFECT for a keto diet. Each recipe yields 10 servings, and each serving has only 3 grams of net carbs! A delicious snack that doesn’t kick me out of ketosis? I’M IN!
Crunchy granola bars or soft granola bars
If you want your granola bars to be crunchy, just use one egg rather than two! They’ll be DELISH.
Ingredient substitution options
No-Sugar-Added SunButter: Since I have a nut allergy, SunButter is ALWAYS my go-to nut butter. It’s made with sunflower seeds and it’s so tasty! You can absolutely sub in peanut butter or almond butter for SunButter at a 1:1 ratio. Note that doing this may alter the nutrition information slightly.
Classic Monk Fruit Sweetener: You can also use Golden Monk Fruit Sweetener, in addition to Swerve, Erythritol, and Truvia. Use them at a 1:1 ratio. If you opt for stevia, you’ll need to research and find the proper conversion.
Homemade granola bar storage
Want to store your extra granola bars? Just refrigerate them! They’ll stay nice, yummy, and fresh for up to 5 days. Be sure to use an airtight container to maximize freshness.
Here’s how to make your own batch of these yummy low carb nut free granola bars!
Measure and assemble the ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overhang edges slightly to allow for easy removal. Set aside.
In a large pan over medium heat, toast pumpkin seeds until warmed and slightly golden, about 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once toasted, transfer pumpkin seeds to a large mixing bowl.
Reduce heat to medium-low and, to the same pan, toast shredded coconut until golden, about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer shredded coconut to mixing bowl with toasted pumpkin seeds.
In a food processor, pulse monk fruit sweetener until powdered.
Transfer to bowl of toasted pumpkin seeds and shredded coconut. To bowl, add eggs, SunButter, coconut oil, and salt.
It really is possible to nab those cravings with the best keto snacks and still lose weight. Read on to see proven methods for losing weight and enjoying your snacks too!
If you ever hit that frustrating point while following a keto diet where you stopped losing weight, then this post is for you.
Keto snacks, while low in carbs, still have calories. And some low-carb snacks are so high in fat – even the good fats – that your body will burn those calories first instead of the fat you are trying to lose.
So how do you have your snacks and still lose weight?
Snacking on keto is tricky. But we are here to help!
What are Keto Snacks?
First, let’s look at what keto-friendly snacks actually are. The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF). When you follow it, your body will reach a state known as “ketosis” where it releases ketones and burns your body’s stored fat for energy.
Normally, your body uses sugar from food – like carbohydrates – for energy, and stores the rest as fat.
So if you are trying to stay in ketosis and continue to lose weight, you need to make sure that everything you are eating falls below a certain carb threshold.
Thankfully, we already have a complete guide all about what macros are and how to track them! Read our keto macro-tracking guide to learn about tracking your macros while following a ketogenic diet.
After you calculate your macros, you’ll need to track what you eat. Keto snacks are any foods that you eat in between meals that will stay within your personal macro parameters.
How to Lose Weight With Keto Snacks
Now that you know what keto snacks are, let’s look at how to lose weight while enjoying them.
There is so much more to losing weight than just cutting out sugar. You have to consume enough protein to build muscle and fat to train your body to burn your stored fat.
The snacks you eat will either slow down your weight loss or help it stay right on track.
Here are 5 tips for how to lose weight if you enjoy snacking.
1. Count the Net Carbs
The first thing you have to do is always count net carbs when you eat snacks. If you are looking for a snack recipe here on Real Balanced, we already break down the macros for you in the nutrition label within the recipe card.
Just because something is low carb, doesn’t mean you can have as much as you want. If you over-indulge in your favorite keto snack, you may need to cut back on other foods at mealtime.
2. Be Mindful of Your Fat Count
Yes, this is a high-fat and low-carb diet, but pay attention to how much fat you are consuming and compare it to how active you are.
Generally speaking, fat is pretty satiating. And you are supposed to be getting about 70% of your daily calories from a healthy fat source. So it’s pretty difficult to eat too many healthy fats.
But, track them all the same.
For example, my Chocolate Truffle Fat Bombs have 9.5 grams of fat per serving. If you are trying to eat approximately 1500 calories a day, your macros for following a keto diet will likely include (according to dLife) about 95 grams of fat per day. So, if you ate 10 fat bombs, that cuts out all your fat intake from your meals for the entire day.
It’s pretty tough to eat 10 fat bombs at once, I’ll admit. Just be mindful and track what you eat.
3. Pay Attention to Your Cravings
Next, pay attention and respect your cravings. That is your body telling you what it needs. In fact, according to Health magazine, this is what those cravings mean and what your body needs:
Salty food cravings – dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.
Sweet cravings – could mean a desire for sugar, so indulge in keto-friendly fruits, like berries, or a fat bomb.
Late-night snacking – could mean exhaustion or stress.
Most cravings pass after 30 minutes. If the craving still isn’t gone, try to fulfill those cravings with healthy alternatives. My fat bombs will stop your hunger and fulfill your sweet tooth.
4. Eat Slowly and Without Distractions
As you eat your snacks, take time to eat them slowly and without distractions. Whether you are mindlessly eating while watching TV or rushing out the door, both habits can actually cause you to consume more calories than you need.
In fact, a new study just found a correlation with eating slowly and weight loss. The results showed that eating slower inhibited the development of obesity.
So slow down and enjoy your snacks!
5. Consume All Your Nutrients
Finally, make sure you are eating enough vitamins and nutrients. While it is important to eat lots of protein and healthy fats on keto, you must also make sure you are eating plenty of fiber and vitamins from fruits and vegetables.
If you are getting everything your body needs, you will have fewer cravings and actually feel full longer.
The Best Keto Snacks for Losing Weight
So, what are the best snacks to eat on the keto diet to help you lose weight?
You definitely want something with healthy fats, like coconut oil, olive oil, or butter. You also want a snack that has vitamins and minerals your body needs.
And you can’t forget a snack that will curb your hunger and satiate you until your next meal.
See? It’s so easy to stay on track! You just need to slow down and eat the right things. If you are hitting a plateau, examine your macros and your activity level and see if there is somewhere that you can make a few adjustments.
You will lose weight on keto, it just takes some focus and planning.
These are the BEST low-carb, grain-free, and dairy-free cookies! Get excited because this is about to become your new favorite keto dessert recipe!
I tested this recipe several times and, with a few tweaks, have the utmost confidence that you’d never even know these are low-carb or grain-free, and neither will anyone else! Promise.
Proof: I made a massive batch of these, sent them to work with my husband, Ryan, and he reported back that all of his coworkers loved them and couldn’t believe they were low-carb, keto, AND paleo-friendly!
This keto dessert is made sans gluten and grains! I personally choose to limit my grain intake and don’t eat gluten-containing items so I knew a gluten- and grain-free cookie recipe that tastes just like a traditional cookie was necessary.
Plus, this recipe is a great grain-free cookie base that would taste delicious with add-ins (walnuts, cinnamon, etc.).
Why I use ghee in these dairy-free cookies
I know all too well that specific dietary requirements determine what a person can or cannot eat. I was determined to make these cookies dairy-free for those who are lactose intolerant or choose to limit their dairy consumption. I love to use ghee for dairy-free recipes!
Ghee (clarified butter) is melted butter with the lactose removed. For those with lactose intolerance, who follow a paleo diet, or just prefer to eat dairy-free, ghee is about to be your new best friend.
Ghee contains MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) making them a perfect nutritional fuel source, especially for all of my keto dieter friends out there.
Serious dairy allergy where ghee isn’t an option for you? No problem. Simply sub in coconut oil for ghee at a 1:1 ratio.
Note, though, that the nutrition information will slightly change if you sub coconut oil for ghee.
Low-Carb Cookies Sweetened With Monk Fruit Sweetener
Monk fruit sweetener saves the day, yet again! This stuff tastes exactly like traditional cane sugar, but without the spike in blood sugar or the calories! On a low-carb or keto diet? Monk fruit sweetener is about to be your new best friend. In this recipe, I use the Lakanto Golden Monk Fruit Sweetener which tastes very similar to that of brown sugar. So delicious!
If, however, you only have the Classic version on hand, that’s ok! You can substitute that in at a 1:1 ratio, and your cookies will still be totally delicious.
I definitely recommend it! Electric mixers (often referred to as “hand mixers”) make the job of preparing these cookies much easier. Plus, they speed up the process!
I like using my electric mixer because it ensures that my dough is as mixed as possible, and I won’t run into sugar or ingredient pockets when I sit down with a delicious cookie or two!
Net Carbs In Low-Carb Cookies
One of these easy homemade cookies contains only 3.6 grams of net carbs! This recipe is perfect to keep on-hand for holiday parties, the kiddos, or for when a dessert craving hits. Enjoy the decadence of a homemade baked good without the sugar hangover!
Here’s how to bake yourself a batch!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, mix together coconut oil and ghee until well-combined. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix again.
To the same bowl, add monk fruit sweetener, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix again until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
One cup at a time, add almond flour and mix again.
Form dough into balls and lightly press down and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake cookies until edges are golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving. Enjoy!
Diets This Low-Carb Cookies Recipe Is Compliant With
Keto and Low-Carb: With only 3.6 grams of net carbs per serving, these almond flour cookies are the BEST low-carb, keto cookies out there!
Paleo: Paleo cookies?! YEP! These ingredients are totally paleo-compliant!
Gluten-Free: The ingredients in these cookies do not contain gluten, making them safe to consume for those with Celiac or other gluten intolerances.
Grain-Free: There are no grains in this recipe.
Dairy-Free: These low-carb cookies do not contain dairy!
Vegetarian: These sugar-free cookies are vegetarian-approved.
Refined Sugar-Free: This cookie recipe is completely free of refined sugar!
This is the TASTIEST keto mocha smoothie! If you like chocolate and coffee, you are going to LOVE this for an energizing and low-carb breakfast. The best part? It’s ready to serve in just FIVE minutes!
This incredible smoothie recipe is keto, low-carb, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, nut-free, egg-free, coconut-free, primal, AND vegetarian!
The perfect keto smoothie recipe
I am ALL for things that make my life easier. I LOVE “life hacks” and tips and tricks for saving time and making the day-to-day grind a bit less hectic. This could not be more true when it comes to cooking!
When I decided to put together a new smoothie recipe, my goal was to create something SO easy that I’d be able to successfully make it even during the busiest of mornings.
This recipe is so simple that it can be prepped and ready to serve in just five minutes, making it a perfect option for those days you’re really hungry but need to run out the door to work.
A DELICIOUS smoothie breakfast
This mocha smoothie is SO tasty! The perfect blend of flavor, this recipe uses cocoa powder, monk fruit sweetener, and espresso powder. I LOVE the coffee undertones mixed with the chocolaty flavor of the cocoa powder.
A tasty (optional) ingredient addition: MCT oil powder
Whether you’re a seasoned keto-er or you’re just beginning your journey, you may have heard about MCT oil powder. The MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) provide the body with satiating fat that will keep you full, focused, and energized between meals.
Commonly listed benefits that people mention after incorporating MCT oil into their diet is improved mental clarity, lowered blood sugar, and even increased energy!
If you’re looking for a boost of energy or an extra serving of fat, you may consider adding MCT oil powder to your smoothie! Simply add one scoop of Perfect Keto’s MCT Oil Powder and you’ll be satiated for hours to come!
A nut-free smoothie breakfast
For those with nut allergies or intolerances, this keto mocha smoothie is the PERFECT breakfast! It’s completely free of nuts, making it a quick, delicious, and nut-allergy friendly breakfast option.
How to make this smoothie dairy-free and vegan
This keto smoothie recipe can be EASILY made vegan! If you wish to substitute the dairy, simply omit the heavy cream and instead use canned coconut cream. For the perfect consistency, use 1/2 cup (120g) of canned coconut cream.
Keto smoothie recipe FAQs
Can I store leftover keto mocha smoothies? Yes! If you want to batch-make this smoothie, feel free! It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Be sure to use a glass airtight jar or container.
Can I use a different sweetener? Certainly! Feel free to use Swerve, Truvia, or erythritol at a 1:1 ratio. If you’d like to use stevia, be sure to accurately determine the correct measurement to use. Brands typically include conversion charts on their websites.
Can I double this recipe? Sure! This recipe makes one smoothie. If you’d like to double it, feel free! It shouldn’t require extra time.
Here’s how to make this keto mocha smoothie yourself!
Assemble the ingredients.
To a high-speed blender, add all ingredients…
Pulse until just combined, being careful to not over-blend, which can lead to the smoothie being too thin.
Serve and enjoy!
This keto mocha smoothie is great for a variety of diets
Keto and Low-Carb: This healthy smoothie only contains 5 grams of net carbs per serving! It’s a FANTASTIC keto-friendly drink option.
Primal: This recipe is paleo compliant.
Gluten-Free: This smoothie is safe for those with Celiac or those with gluten intolerance or allergy.
Grain-Free: Similarly, this recipe is grain free.
Nut-Free: This delicious mocha smoothie is peanut-free and tree nut-free!
Coconut-Free: By simply omitting the optional ingredient of MCT oil powder, which contains coconut, coconut is not included in this recipe, making it safe for those with coconut allergies.
Egg-Free: Eggs are not used to create this incredible smoothie.
Vegetarian: This smoothie is vegetarian-friendly.
Sugar-Free: Refined sugar is not included in this mocha smoothie.
Blogging is an awesome way to get creative and have fun, but, to be totally transparent, the driving force behind Real Balanced has always been to be a profitable business. In this post I’m diving into how to generate revenue with the help of one of my favorite companies, Mediavine.
Why put ads on your site?
Running a food blog is expensive! It requires time, energy, tons of effort, and… SO MUCH MONEY!
Think about it. Dreaming up recipes is one thing… creating them is something else! In order to create new, original, and SUCCESSFUL recipes, you go through a LOT of ingredients. Cooking, especially with nut-free and low-carb ingredients like I use, can be a lot of trial-and-error, which leads to testing and re-testing recipes multiple times to ensure every possible question a reader could have about the process is thoroughly explained.
More than just ingredients though, there are A LOT of technical costs involved with food blogging too, such as website hosting, plugins, email service providers, task management tools, SEO tools, and contract workers.
All that said, you can see that food blogging can get very pricey very quickly.
To help offset some of those costs, I run ads on my site! I definitely recommend you doing so as well, as it’s a great and easy way to monetize all of the hard work you do on your blog.
Switching from Google Ads to Mediavine
When I first started advertising on my site, I was using Google AdSense. Google Ads were fine for the time being, but the daily revenue was minimal. Plus, I found the ads to be intrusive and, as someone who isn’t techy, I had trouble figuring out how to make the ads “play nice” with how my site theme was structured.
Once I came across Mediavine and learned about their company, I impatiently awaited meeting the criteria to apply. Mediavine provides a very hands-off experience for the blogger and they essentially do all of the work for content creators. Since I started working with Mediavine, I’ve been able to sit back and they’ve done the heavy lifting.
The revenue with Mediavine is much higher than what I ever saw with Google Ads, too! As someone whose goal was to be a full-time blogger (which I am now), being approved to work with Mediavine allowed me to quit my day job and work on Real Balanced as my sole job.
A done-for-you ad auction for your blog
Mediavine works like an auction, essentially selling your ad placements to the highest bidders! As long as your blog consistently meets the standards of Mediavine (great, original, high quality content and sustainable traffic), you’re pretty much guaranteed ad placements.
Confused about this? Don’t worry. Mediavine can answer any and all questions you may have about how ads on your site will work.
Applying to Mediavine
To get started with Mediavine, there is an application process that all bloggers must complete. Mediavine requirements help to ensure that they only bring on bloggers that they can successfully serve.
To start, Mediavine requires applicants to have at least 25,000 sessions per month, which comes to about 30,000 page views. This traffic must consist of engaged, organic viewers. This check helps ensure that placed ads will receive as many hits as possible. When users engage with your ads, the advertisers come back!
Next, you will be required to submit your website analytics, which can be found by setting up Google Analytics within your site. When you submit this report, Mediavine takes a look at your traffic, popular pages, etc. They monitor the user behavior and look at how your stats match up to other sites.
Oh, and PS: You must be in good standing with Google AdSense.
Do you meet these standards and are ready to apply? Head to Mediavine’s homepage and click the “Apply Now” button.
Prepping your website for Mediavine
Once you’ve applied, been approved, and are ready to get started with Mediavine (woohoo!), their team will go through your site to ensure that it’s set up properly.
They’ll look at your sidebar (it must be wide enough), script wrapper, and other technical details. If anything needs to be changed, they handle it all for you!
On your end, keep pushing out great, high quality content and keep it as SEO-optimized as possible. Mediavine will do the rest!
Exclusivity with Mediavine
When you work with Mediavine, they require total exclusivity. The reason being, they take care of absolutely everything for you. They’re pitching your site to advertisers and ensuring that you receive placements. If you’re running outside ads, their methods aren’t effective.
As long as you consistently produce great content and maintain your traffic, you’re in good shape.
Mediavine reviews speak for themselves. Bloggers like myself LOVE that they handle all of the ad work and essentially provide an extra stream of passive income. After signing on with them, you won’t WANT to work with anyone else!
All of the reasons I LOVE generating food blogging income with Mediavine ads
Customer service: First and foremost, their customer service is unmatched. From the time I was approved, Mediavine has always been available and eager to answer any and all of my questions. When I first began working with them, they walked me through the entire onboarding process from start to finish and, since then, are always extremely communicative and responsive. It’s no wonder they have so many raving fans!
They’re responsive: Whenever I need help with something or have a quick question, they get back to me. They respond quickly and never close a ticket until the issue is resolved.
Easy to read dashboard: The dashboard provides easy to read and understand insight into ad results from previous days and clearly shows how everything is performing.
Easily monitor earnings: The dashboard also updates my Mediavine income report each day! I’m able to see how much money I made on the previous day, what my next payout will be, daily RPM, etc.
Fantastic community: Mediavine’s Facebook group is full of helpful resources and information from other bloggers of all niches! If I want opinions or suggestions, I know that I can always ask the awesome Mediavine community and receive the insightful answers that I’m looking for.
Guess what guess what guess what! We’re expecting a tiny new member of the Real Balanced and Nelson family!
We excitedly announced our news on social media recently and were blown away by the incredible support we received from so many of you!
I wanted to write this post (a much more personal one than I would usually publish on my site) to share how we’ve been doing and to answer some of the questions I’ve received.
But, before we get there, for anyone who is experiencing or has experienced infertility, or miscarriage, or the loss of a child, know that you’ve been on my mind since the moment we learned about this pregnancy. I understand if this content isn’t something you can or want to read. Just please know you’re being thought about.
Basic Info on Baby Nelson
Estimated Due Date: January 8, 2020.
Weeks Along: About 14 weeks.
Found Out: Early May.
Bump Size: Awkwardly bloated looking. Nothing fits like it used to and I just feel uncomfortably bigger (likely due to the extra water weight that I’m carrying).
First Ultrasound: June 3, 2019. It couldn’t have come sooner. I was so anxious for that first look at baby and, once we saw the heartbeat on the monitor, I just stared at it dumbfounded for several minutes.
Our Doctor: Amazing. Kind. Compassionate. A listener. I can’t say enough about how wonderful she is. She’s based out of Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee.
Told Family The News: Started sharing the news at 8 weeks. We shared with family whenever we had the opportunity to see them in person. We were really fortunate that schedules just so happened to line up that many of our out-of-town grandparents were visiting Milwaukee, so we were able to share the news with them in-person, versus a phone or video call. The support from every single family member was, in a word, overwhelming. This baby has a lot of love being sent their way and we are beyond grateful for that!
Second Ultrasound: June 27, 2019. We are going through genetic counseling, so this second ultrasound was at that appointment. I was just over 12 weeks along at that point, so baby looked MUCH bigger compared to the 9-week scan. It’s incredible how quickly they grow and, omg, modern science is WILD! I couldn’t believe how clear the image was. At this scan, we saw baby lift their hand straight up, separate their fingers, and open their mouth up wide. Cue tears.
Told Friends The News: Started sharing the news with very close friends around 11 weeks. Most of our friends don’t live nearby, so we mainly told them via text message. Ryan was, however, able to tell his best friend in-person and I was able to tell my best friend over the phone. (Funny side note: both of our best friends share a birthday of January 9, so baby might have their birthday!)
Third Ultrasound: July 8, 2019. Scheduled monthly appointment with a Physician’s Assistant at my Doctor’s office. This was the first time I was able to hear the baby’s heartbeat (we previously had only ever seen it beating on a monitor without sound). It was amazing! I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that my body has two different heartbeats right now!
Baby’s Current Size: A peach! 🤗
Gender: We don’t know yet, but will be finding out mid-August! Yeeeeee!
Names: Chosen! But, we will not be sharing with anyone until baby makes an arrival.
Following A Low-Carb Diet: Yes, I have been! The first trimester brought on A LOT of food aversions (more on that a little later), so even thinking about the foods I would normally eat (protein and fat) made me feel queasy, which did make eating my normal meals really challenging. I did eat a higher carb meal at one point in May and, that night, had one of the worst night terrors I’ve ever had. So, yeah, carbs weren’t going to work if I wanted to sleep (which I desperately did. ALL of the time). Now that I’m able to eat normally again, I am back to craving my favorite keto-friendly foods. I eat a lot of beef, bacon, eggs, vegetables (mostly broccoli, radishes, and jicama), pickles, olives, avocado, dairy products, and seeds.
Exercise: The first month of pregnancy, I was still working out 2-3 days a week. Now that we’ve moved and I no longer have a gym membership, my activity level is lessened in terms of lifting weights in a gym-setting, but with all of the recent packing and moving into a new house, I still get plenty of movement in. My plan going forward is to just continue walking as often as I can and maybe trying to find a local (or online) prenatal yoga or pilates class.
Plans For Work: I will be taking maternity leave immediately after the baby arrives, but will likely work a few hours a day (when I have the time) once we are all settled back home. Recipes will be published as normal, so don’t worry about RB going silent during this time! My team and I will simply be working ahead throughout the remainder of 2019 to make sure content is published regularly for you all while I’m away. For Ryan, he will be home with us for about 4 weeks, give or take, before he heads back to work.
Plans For Living Arrangements: We just moved! To a beautiful 2-bedroom townhome. For a little background, April and May of 2019 contained A LOT of planning and decision-making. Ryan was in the midst of getting a new job, our lease at our old house was ending, and we were just finding out we were pregnant. At the time, we obviously felt VERY overwhelmed, but it actually was a perfect storm of timing out some major life decisions. We were able to decide many areas of our lives based on knowing a baby would be in the picture. Now that we’re out on the other side of it, we’re really happy and relieved the timing went down the way it did.
Keto During Pregnancy
The question many of you have asked: “are you following keto while pregnant?”
And the answer is, yes!
Am I checking my ketone levels? No. I don’t feel like maintaining a strict state of ketosis is as important to me now as it had been in the past. The goal right now is more so to eat nutrient-dense, low-carb foods, rather than reach and maintain ketosis.
Even with all of my food aversions during my first trimester (there were SO many), I ate a pretty strict low-carb diet, excluding one day that I ate a lot of carbs and had an awful night terror that same night. Never again.
Aside from carb content, I am most concerned with ingredients in foods, which is something I’ve always been hyper-aware of. If I can control the ingredients, I do not buy or eat anything with inflammatory oils (like canola oil), I limit soy (with the exception of some Lily’s chocolate bars every so often), and I try to buy and eat organic fruits and vegetables when possible (I’m far from perfect here though).
I am not tracking my macros, but I am tracking my body weight. At this point, I have gained about 3 pounds since the time I found out I was pregnant, which is perfectly normal during the first trimester. I expect to gain much more during the next trimester.
The foods I have been craving the most: scrambled eggs, bacon, sardines, cheese (specifically cheese curds), pickles, olives, sunflower seeds, my Roasted Radishes, and my Flourless Pancakes. Plus, I desperately want sushi and deli meat but, for safety reasons, I won’t be eating either of these until baby arrives. (I’ve already asked (read: “begged”) my parents to plan to bring sushi to the hospital. 🙃)
The Beginning of My First Trimester In a Nutshell
A rollercoaster of emotions. Mostly really sad, depressed emotions. The month of May (the month we found out that we’re pregnant) was extremely rough for me.
My hormones were clearly very “out of whack” and my brain felt like cottage cheese. I wasn’t my normal work-all-the-time-because-it’s-so-fun-Sara. Because my brain was so foggy, I missed, get this, FIVE work meetings. (Two of those five meetings that I missed? Yeah, the same meeting. I rescheduled it after missing the first one and I still missed the rescheduled time.) It was mortifying and so unlike me to act this way.
All of this led me down a really bad path of emotions. I work at home alone, so I felt beyond lonely, especially since the pregnancy was still a secret so I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, so then I’d cry, then I’d stop working, then I’d feel badly that I wasn’t working, then I’d cry, then I’d take a nap, then I was hungry but nothing sounded appetizing, so I’d cry. I felt completely out of control with my emotions.
I don’t say ANY of this to sound ungrateful, but purely just to share that not every facet of my pregnancy (and I assume this goes for many women) is even remotely perfect or Instagram-worthy. The first two months were really messy and sad. Hormones are powerful and when they are working on overdrive while building a baby, weird things can happen.
This leads me to saying that I have never-ending respect to pregnant women who are nurses, teachers, or purely do anything that includes moving around throughout the day. Honestly, how do you guys do it?! Sincere shout-out if this is you! I was a pile-of-nothing for weeks. I laid on my couch all day every day.
The End of My First Trimester
It has been so much better. I mean, SO SO SO much better. I can eat food again. I am happy. I am motivated. I am excited. I am sleeping better.
I finally feel like I’m over the hump and that my second trimester is going to be a lot easier than the first.
I am beyond happy that my moods are stabilizing and improving and, even more than me, I know Ryan is thrilled about this too. 😅
First Trimester Things That I’ve Been Doing
Using Pregnancy Apps: I really like The Bump and Ovia apps. I check The Bump every day to see a new daily fact about baby (usually related to the size of the baby that day) and Ovia to read about the changes in the baby’s body and my body.
Following An Online Community: This has been both a very bad and a very good idea. In the early parts of finding out that we were expecting, this community was great because I hadn’t told anyone (aside from Ryan) and I had 0.00 idea on ANYTHING related to pregnancy. This online community was full of people who I could learn from to see if my symptoms were normal or what I should be expecting that particular week. But, this community became very bad as I began to read so many stories of loss that I became completely petrified. Finally, after experiencing so much anxiety, Ryan asked me to stop checking these threads for awhile. It was a good call. I took some time off and started to feel better and more confident about the outlook of our baby. Now, I am again checking my online community daily and it’s back to being a place of comfort with people who are experiencing a lot of the same things that I am.
Cleaning Up My Beauty Routine: I previously used “pretty clean” products across the board, but my beauty routine still had a lot of room for improvement. Since finding out I was pregnant, I have switched to virtually every makeup product that Mineral Fusion offers. Their products are great and contain safe ingredients. Plus, I’ve found other brands where I like the ingredients and feel they are safe for both me and the baby. Here are all of the products I’ve switched over to:
Cleaning Up My Household Cleaning Products: We were sort of a “hit or miss” when it came to nontoxic household cleaning products. We have always used Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, but many of our other cleaning products are not-so-great. Now that I’m pregnant, we’ve purchased and are using some cleaner cleaning products:
We could still use some major improvement in the area of nontoxic cleaning products, so if you have suggestions, please feel free to share them in the comments of this post!
Thank you for all of your support, especially for those of you who are not interested in having kids or reading about having kids. We totally understand this isn’t for everyone, so I appreciate you letting me gush for a bit. We love you guys!
This low carb Jalapeño Popper Chicken Salad is a flavorful, keto-friendly, and Whole30-compliant meal option that puts a fun spin on traditional jalapeño poppers!
This salad is so easy to whip together and is perfect for meal prepping! I love to make it ahead of time and include it in my low-carb lunch menu for those weekdays when I’m in a hurry.
This delicious keto dinner is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, coconut-free, and nut-free, PLUS it’s Whole30-compliant and paleo-approved!
This paleo keto dinner is perfect for meal prep!
This jalapeño chicken salad recipe has been on regular rotation in our household! It takes under an hour to prepare and makes enough for four servings. It’s a perfect weekday dinner or make-ahead workday lunch option.
For me, I’ve been so happy prepping this recipe on Sundays when I do my weekly meal prep. It’s such a treat knowing that this is in my meal lineup for the day!
Ryan, my husband, has said that just one serving of this salad keeps him completely satiated for hours. Late-afternoon snacking is no longer necessary, making for sustained energy and less time thinking about what to eat next. Those facts alone make for a less stressful, more enjoyable work day!
Net carbs in this jalapeño popper chicken salad
With only 1 gram of net carbs per serving, this keto jalapeño popper chicken salad is perfect for those following a low-carb diet. When you feed this meal to others, they will be SHOCKED to learn that it’s a low-carb option. It’s sooo savory!
Easily make this recipe egg-free
If you’d prefer to omit the eggs in this jalapeño chicken salad (they’re present in the dairy-free mayonnaise), that’s totally fine! In place of the mayo, use sour cream! It’s an easy swap that will taste just as yummy.
Just note that if you sub sour cream for mayonnaise, this recipe will no longer be dairy-free, paleo, or Whole30-compliant, but it will be egg-free. Additionally, the nutrition information will be different than listed in the nutrition label. Substitute these ingredients based on your dietary needs!
How to store your low carb jalapeño popper chicken salad
If you wind up with leftovers and need to save a batch of this salad, be sure to keep it stored in an airtight container. Refrigerate it and enjoy within 2-3 days for peak freshness!
Do not freeze this recipe. When thawed, previously frozen lettuce loses its crunchiness and freshness.
Jalapeño salad FAQs
Can I use turkey instead of chicken? Sure! If you prefer turkey, feel free to use it in place of chicken in this recipe. Be sure to monitor the turkey while cooking, as it may need more or less time to come to temperature (165 degrees Fahrenheit).
Can I omit the jalapeños in this recipe? Absolutely! If you do not like spicy dishes, you can altogether omit the jalapeños in this chicken salad. If you are looking for a dish that is mildly spicy, simply reduce the amount of jalapeños.
Will extra jalapeños work with this recipe? Definitely! Depending on how spicy you want your dish to be, feel free to add more (or remove) jalapeños to your recipe!
Here’s how to make this Jalapeño Popper Chicken Salad yourself!
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line baking tray with parchment paper. Cook chicken breast until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 15-18 minutes. Then, remove chicken from oven, transfer to plate or bowl, and refrigerate to chill.
Cook bacon in oven (15-20 minutes at 425 degrees, depending on thickness of bacon) or on stovetop until crispy. Transfer cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plated to remove excess grease.
Turn on oven broiler and broil jalapeños until slightly charred, about 3 minutes. Remove jalapeños from oven and allow to cool slightly before roughly chopping, de-seeding based on your spice preferences. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
Cut cooked chicken breast into cubes, crumble the crispy baked bacon into bits, and add all remaining ingredients to mixing bowl.
Mix mixture until well-combined. Cover bowl with lid or foil and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour before serving.
Serve salad chilled and enjoy!
Jalapeño popper chicken salad is compliant with so many diet types
Check out all of the diets that this amazing dairy-free keto jalapeño chicken salad complies with! It’s the perfect dish to make for a tailgate or gathering.
Keto and Low-Carb: This keto jalapeño popper chicken salad only contains 1g of net carbs per serving!
Whole30 and Paleo: This recipe does not contain dairy, grains, gluten, added sugar, or soy.
There really are fats that will help your body and some that will harm it.
There are two types of “good” or “healthy” fats:
They are healthy because they lower bad LDL cholesterol levels while increasing good HDL. They also help you feel more full after a meal, helping you to eat less.
If you want a really chemical and detailed explanation of the differences between types of fats, check out The Diet Doctor. You’ll learn about chemical bonds and why saturated fats stay solid at room temperature.
Fats and Our Bodies: Video
If you have a free hour, this video is the most thorough explanation you will find. It takes you through the development of our bodies and why certain foods actually hurt our health. You’ll learn so much from this! It’s worth the hour.
The food revolution - AHS 2011 - YouTube
Why Healthy Fats Are Important on Keto
Now let’s talk about how they react with your body while it is in ketosis. It is important to consume enough of them to keep your good cholesterol up and bad cholesterol down.
We actually need them to stay healthy and reduce our risk of heart disease.
But there is another benefit as well.
When your body is in ketosis, your body stops burning carbs for energy and instead starts to burn fat. That’s either from what you eat or what is stored in your body. So your body will begin to crave the fats for energy.
This is why when you eat them, you will feel full.
They will make you feel more satisfied. This will help you end those hunger cravings that you normally fill with carbs.
Keep in mind you need to lower your carbs first before filling up on fats, even healthy ones. You should supplement your diet with them, not rely on them.
If you are trying to lose weight on keto, keep an eye on your fat intake. Your body will naturally burn fat in ketosis. Do you want it to burn the ones you are eating, or do you want it to burn your body’s stores?
The Best Healthy Fats on Keto
So now you know what healthy fats are and why they will help your health, let’s look at the two best healthy fats and where to find them.
There are two kinds you should consume: monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. The difference is how many unsaturated carbon bonds the fat molecules have. Mono has one, poly has multiple.
1. Monounsaturated Fats
You’ll find these in plant-based foods. Here are some of the best sources of them:
Oils and foods rich in these fats give your body the essential fats your body needs but can’t produce itself.
The best sources of these fats are:
Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines) and fish oil
Should You Watch Out For Saturated Fats?
Even though it isn’t exactly clear if they are harmful to you, some believe that saturated fats should be eaten in moderation. Many experts say that these fats could raise bad cholesterol and negatively affect your heart health.
However, the jury is still out on this one for many people and, in recent years, studies like this one have shown that saturated fats aren’t as bad as we once believed them to be. Personally, I do not limit my saturated fat intake whatsoever. But, that’s a personal decision and you should do whatever feels right to you.
Sources of saturated fat include:
Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
Whole-fat dairy products (milk, cream, cheese)
Tropical oils, such as coconut and palm oil
Yes, there are mixed reviews about them. Lots of fat bomb recipes will have cream cheese or cream in them and you’ll see coconut oil in many keto recipes.
Should you be worried about saturated fat? Probably not. But, it’s good to have the knowledge to make your own decision.
How to Eat Healthy Fats
Next, let’s look at how to eat them. There are lots of ways to add them to your meals and snacks. And here on Real Balanced we have lots of recipes and ideas!
The best way is to cook with either avocado oil, coconut oil, or olive oil. You’ll always get the best amount this way.
Recipes and Ideas
Here are some of our favorite recipes that include natural sources of healthy fats and are low in carbs.
These recipes help to satisfy cravings for sweet carbs and boost your energy at the same time.
Remember: Not All Fats Are Bad
You might think you need to cut out fats in order to lose weight. But you only need to cut down on excess dietary fat. You can calculate how many grams of fat you should be consuming each day with a keto macro calculator.
Keto Chicken Shawarma Kebabs is my new favorite way to enjoy chicken! These keto kebabs are succulent, juicy and SO delicious. These incredible keto chicken shawarma kebabs are low-carb, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, sugar-free, egg-free, paleo, AND primal!
Delicious shawarma without a long prep time
In total, this recipe will take a minimum of 3 hours from start to finish to serve; however, only about 30 minutes of active time in the kitchen is required, the rest of the time is to allow the chicken to marinate.
If you want to maximize your time, a great option is to marinade your chicken the night before and allow it to marinate and chill overnight. Not only will this cut down on the time needed to whip this dish together after a long day at work, it also really enhances the flavors of the dish.
If you aren’t able to marinate your chicken overnight, you’ll want to marinate it for a minimum of two hours prior to cooking.
Alternative cooking methods for shawarma
Shawarma is typically prepared in one of two ways: baking in the oven or grilling on the grill. This recipe utilizes the oven to bake the chicken.
I created this recipe in the oven as an easy weeknight keto dinner, but you could also certainly cook these kebabs on a charcoal or gas grill!
What kind of skewers are necessary for kebabs
I personally prefer using stainless steel skewers for cooking kebabs. Be sure that when handling the skewers, you use oven mitts so you do not burn yourself.
If you don’t have stainless steel skewers, you can absolutely use wooden skewers. Just be sure to first soak them in water to prevent burning.
Spices and dip for shawarma kebabs
Like things spicy? Add more ground cayenne pepper. If you’re not a fan of heat, you can altogether omit the cayenne.
When serving, a great idea is to serve alongside a green salad and a refreshing creamy tzatziki. That’s what I did, and it was DELICIOUS! Happy dunking!
Another meat option for these kebabs? Chicken thighs!
I used chicken breasts and threaded them onto skewers, but you could also make these with chicken thighs. You can use skewers the same way, or just roast in the oven without threading onto skewers.
Cooking times vary so be sure to watch the thighs and make sure they cook through.
Net carbs in keto chicken shawarma with tzatziki
One serving of this recipe contains only 1.2 grams of net carbs per serving! Add a serving of tzatziki for just 2 grams, and your entire dish is a grand total of just 3.2 grams of net carbs.
This recipe yields three delicious, generous servings.
Storing this chicken shawarma recipe
This dish is easy to store when you have leftovers or if you made a double batch! It will last in the refrigerator for up to three days. Simply store in an airtight container, and you should be good to go!
Make this Chicken Shawarma Kebabs with Tzatziki for dinner!
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the chicken breasts into cubes, about 1 inch x 1 inch pieces.
Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl or freezer bag. Add the chicken to the marinade and make sure each piece is fully coated. Marinate for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight to let the flavors infuse.
Thread marinated chicken breast cubes on to the skewers until you have 3 equal servings.
If serving, make the tzatziki and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the chicken kebabs on the tray and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through and golden. Turn halfway through for even cooking.
Remove chicken from oven and allow chicken to rest for 3-4 minutes before serving with tzatziki. Add a small salad to the side for an added meal component!
Keto shawarma complies with a bunch of diets
Keto and Low-Carb: With only 1.2g net carbs per skewer, these kebabs are totally low-carb!
Cut the chicken breasts into cubes, about 1 inch x 1 inch pieces.
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl or ziplock bag. Add the chicken to the marinade and make sure each piece is fully coated. If using a ziplock bag, place the chicken in the bag, squeeze out the air, seal, and massage until chicken is fully coated in marinade. Marinate chicken for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight to let the flavors infuse.
Thread marinated chicken breast on the metal skewers until you have 3 equal servings.
Prepare tzatziki if you plan to serve chicken with a side sauce. Store tzatziki in the fridge covered with a lid or plastic wrap until ready to..
Looking for the ultimate keto-friendly dip to pair with your favorite low-carb dishes? This tasty and healthy tzatziki is absolutely MOUTHWATERING and can be whipped up in just 5 minutes flat!
This particular tzatziki recipe is incredible because it can be enjoyed by so many. It’s keto, low-carb, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, coconut-free, vegetarian, AND sugar-free! You are going to love it!
What is tzatziki?
If you’re unfamiliar, tzatziki is a dish that comes from the Southeast European and Middle Eastern regions. It’s known for its yogurt and cucumber base and is commonly seasoned with garlic, salt, and olive oil. This stuff takes plain Greek yogurt to an entirely new level!
This dish is perfect as a sauce or dip and is especially delicious when paired with these Keto Chicken Shawarma Kebabs! It’s wildly versatile and is great for a wide audience. Served cold, I’ve found that everyone loves this yummy tzatziki.
The tastiest keto tzatziki EVER
One of my fave low-carb recipes of all time, this tzatziki is SO yummy when used as a dip. I love to eat it with veggies such as carrots or celery, or spread atop some of my Low-Carb Crackers!
Another option for serving tzatziki is to eat it over your favorite protein, like beef, lamb, or chicken. It works incredibly well as a sauce, adding TONS of juicy flavor. Spoon a dollop atop your favorite main dish, and enjoy!
How to make tzatziki
It’s SO simple!
This tzatziki recipe requires almost no work, minimal ingredients, and a few cooking materials: a mixing bowl, grater, and a cheesecloth! There is no cooking required, bringing the total time to a grand total of 5 minutes.
Before you know it, you’ll have an incredibly satisfying dip/sauce/bowl of deliciousness!
Net carbs in keto tzatziki
Get excited, because this tzatziki dip is one of the BEST keto sauces, with only 1.6 grams of net carbs per serving. You can enjoy a heaping portion of this without kicking yourself out of ketosis! And, trust me… a heaping portion you will want. This stuff is SO good.
Storing your low-carb tzatziki
If you wind up with some leftover tzatziki (though, let’s be real… the chances are slim), you can store it in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. Be sure to store it an airtight container to maintain ultimate flavor!
Some people find that “second day” tzatziki is the best, because it allows the flavors to truly “set in.”
No matter if you eat it the first day, second day, or third day, I know you’ll love it!
Make this healthy dip today!
Assemble the tzatziki ingredients. You’ll need a cucumber, Greek yogurt, garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, finely chopped fresh dill, finely chopped fresh mint, and salt.
Cut cucumber lengthwise and de-seed using a spoon. Using a grater, grate the cucumber and put it into a cheesecloth. Squeeze the liquid out and discard.
Transfer grated cucumber from cheesecloth to a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Diets that are perfect for keto tzatziki
Keto and Low-Carb: This delicious keto tzatziki only has 2 grams of net carbs per serving.
Gluten-Free: This recipe is free of gluten products.
Grain-Free: This tzatziki does not require grain products.
Nut-Free: There are no peanuts or tree nuts within this dish.
Coconut-Free: This recipe is free of coconut products.
Vegetarian: This keto sauce is vegetarian-approved!